This was a headline that was running at the Drudge Report: “GOOGLE: With robots in our brains — we’ll be godlike…” It raises an important question: what will become of humankind in the future if technology continues to advance as rapidly as it has in the last few decades?
Ray Kurzweil is an inventor who has been at the forefront of technological development since the late 1960’s. He was instrumental in the invention of flatbed scanners and OCR software. These days, he is known for his optimistic vision of the future in which humans meld their minds with computers and expand their consciousness through Internet connectivity to the cloud. The hope that comes with this development is immortality.
Kurzweil was featured in a short interview clip recently. He has made headlines for his blunt statement of faith, asserting that we will eventually become like gods.
The author of an article reporting this news comments on Kurzweil’s interview, and he expresses deep skepticism over Kurzweil’s faith. This is evident by his sarcasm:
There’s something so uplifting, yet so splendidly egocentric in suggesting that man will soon be God, thanks to artificial intelligence. The mere fact that this intelligence is artificial might be a clue as to its potential limitations.
Moreover, I rather think of us as a dangerous species: Primitive, yet believing we’re so very clever.
There are so many fundamental things with which we struggle. Here we are, though, believing that we’ll be godlike in a few years’ time.
The article’s author, Chris Matyszczyk, ends it with what he must imagine to be a touch of irony: “Lord, help us.”
His attitude reminds me of Paul’s speech to the audience in Athens:
Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious…Yet [God] is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’
Paul was telling the Athenians, who claimed to seek after God and truth, that they already knew Him. Paul’s point is that everyone already knows that God exists because He has made this knowledge known to them (Romans 1:18-20). He quoted their own poets, making the point that even a so-called blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes.
People like Kurzweil are optimistic about the future possibilities of mankind. Kurzweil, being an evolutionist, believes a modern version of the chain of being. He believes it is our evolutionary destiny to evolve from dumb slime into gods. Along the way, we accumulate greater powers as the blind, impersonal evolutionary process “creates structures and patterns that over time are more complicated, more knowledgeable, more intelligent, more creative, more capable of expressing higher sentiments like being loving.”
THE RELIGIOUS IMPULSE OF EVOLUTIONISM
People deny that evolution is a religious impulse, but Kurzweil isn’t blind. He is frank about it: “Evolution is a spiritual process and makes us more godlike,” he said. He sees our evolutionary development as a process that moves us from a world of cosmic purposelessness to humanistic sovereignty.
This is the sleight of hand that the evolutionists have been playing since the beginning. They recognized that they were at war with Christianity over the first point of the biblical covenant: who is sovereign over all time and history? Is it God, or is it Man?
Christianity teaches that history is the outworking of the struggle of men who seek to be as God against those who willingly submit to God’s authority. This is the history of covenant breakers versus covenant keepers. Augustine expressed it in terms of the City of God versus the City of Man.
The outcome has already been determined, but the covenant breakers continue to resist the truth of the matter. So, they continue to play games in the hopes of prolonging their stay of execution: the end of history when Christ returns to initiate the Final Judgment. Christianity teaches that the world will be progressively Christianized. This will lead to more and more societies adhering to biblical law which will usher in the conversion of the Jews and the outpouring of great blessings upon the world. This belief about the end times is called post-millennialism. Unbelievers understand inherently that the more they can disrupt society and pull it away from the biblical ideal, the longer they have before Christ returns in judgment. They refuse to admit that the end is inevitable. They are in denial. As Paul wrote, they suppress the truth.
A MASSIVE CON GAME
The history of the modern version of evolution has been one big con game. Christianity teaches that all of creation was made first, for God’s glory, and second, for man’s enjoyment. It was made so that mankind can progressively glorify God in all that he does. He can build things from the raw materials placed here. He can gaze at the sky and see the heavens, with its multitude of stars and planets, which declare God’s handiwork. This reminds men of God’s sovereignty. It reminds men that God is always present, even though he is transcendent to his creation. This appalls unbelievers, so they concoct a myth: mankind is not special. Planet Earth is not special. There is no purpose in the universe, so it is egotistical for man to believe he is special. Evolution, working in conjunction with the modern cosmological myth of the Big Bang Theory, seeks to undermine God’s authority by knocking mankind off its high pedestal. We’re just the ancestors of miserable slime, they tell us, descended from a common ancestor with monkeys (a theory for which there has been no evidence discovered). Nothing special to see here.
But then, the sleight-of-hand operation kicks into gear. “It appears initially to denigrate man’s position in a universe of infinite (or almost infinite) space and time, only subsequently to place man on the pinnacle of this non-created realm. Man becomes content to be a child of the meaningless slime, in order that he might claim his rightful sovereignty in the place once occupied by God. By default—the disappearance of God the Creator—man achieves his evolving divinity.” [Gary North, Sovereignty and Dominion, Appendix A, pp. 337-38.]
Gary North wrote a masterful essay on this grand deceit that documents the details and primary sources by those who participated in the early days of the deception. He titled it “From Cosmic Purposelessness to Humanistic Sovereignty.” You can download it and read it for free by clicking here.
Kurzweil is in the camp of evolutionists who believe that man is evolving to claim his rightful place in the universe as sovereign conquerer and rulemaker. Evolution got us this far, but now that we evolved intelligence we can finally take control over the very process that begat us and shape our own destiny. We can finally be as god.
On the other hand, there are those unbelievers who are skeptical of all of this. They are like the poets that Paul quoted to the Athenians. Matyszczyk is an example. He comprehends the sin nature of man, as revealed by his skepticism of Kurzweil’s optimism about the future of mankind: “Moreover, I rather think of us as a dangerous species: Primitive, yet believing we’re so very clever.”
In that sense, he’s like a Calvinist who understands original sin. Where unbelievers like Kurzweil emphasize the long-term hope promised to Christians (which was secularized during the Enlightenment), unbelievers like Matyszczyk sense the dark side of mankind’s nature: his sin, which is in need of redemption. Ethical redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ is the only hope men have for reforming their lives. Matyszczyk sees little hope, where Kurzweil sees little danger.
There are few secular optimists like Ray Kurzweil remaining. He is a remaining member of the old-school can-do liberal optimism, a faith which died institutionally in the 1960’s with its last representative, President John F. Kennedy.
Kurzweil maintains an evolutionary view which is logically at fault in its arbitrariness because it assumes that the innovations stop with mankind. That old-school optimism has been overtaken by a liberal pessimism that drives the cold, hard logic of the evolutionary position to its endpoint. They ask the obvious question: If mankind can take dominion over the evolutionary process from which it was conceived, then what’s to prevent the creative offspring of mankind from doing the same? Why shouldn’t we expect our robotic creations to, in turn, conquer us?
These are questions that spring from one’s belief about the nature of man. It is a religious question. Kurzweil believes we can transcend our creaturehood, while Matyszczyk believes we may ultimately destroy ourselves. The two positions are at odds with one another.
Only Christianity furnishes the answer. Only through Christ and the Trinitarian God can mankind’s sin be overcome in history. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit can converted hearts gradually subdue the power of sin dwelling in them while simultaneously restraining the evil that men would otherwise fully manifest.
Only God’s ordination of history before the foundation of the world and his reigning sovereignty can provide the assurance that forms the basis for optimism about the future. Only the fact that mankind is the crown of creation, and Christ the center of history, can we be assured that our technological innovations will never rise up against us, but will only serve us as tools of dominion.
Mankind cannot transcend his creaturehood. He is forever separated from God; never the twain shall meet. No amount of technological integration can change this.